In addition to being convenient, ordering medication online has become a necessity for those requiring repeat prescriptions.
Many pharmacies now provide a prescription collection solution to adapt to increased demands, yet the service poses multiple challenges to pharmacies and customers. To help businesses that want to start a pharmacy delivery service or those who want to solve delivery problems, we will cover:
- What prescription deliveries involve
- The benefits of having a pharmacy delivery service
- Common challenges and solutions
- Our approach to increasing delivery rates
What are prescription deliveries?
Typically, in order to receive medications that are not available over the counter, a patient must book and attend a GP appointment to be prescribed what they need, followed by collection at the pharmacy which often involves an unpredictable waiting period before it can be dispensed.
Prescription deliveries allow your GP surgery to release your repeat or one-off prescription for distribution at your chosen local pharmacy – to be picked up at a time that is convenient for you. Depending on the pharmacy’s supply chain protocols and logistics, and how well their delivery service is maintained, the time for collection will vary but often provides more flexibility.
Why is the Prescription Delivery market growing?
By 2026, the pharmaceutical delivery market is projected to be worth more than $2 billion (USD) annually. Although the COVID-19 pandemic amplified no-contact services, click-and-collect services had already been kick-started across various industries in previous years, and the healthcare industry is no different in expanding its reach through digital offerings.
Providing an automated prescription collection solution continues to present many benefits to both customers and pharmacies.
1. Increased customer satisfaction
Research has shown that Prescription Delivery service for pharmacies is driving a higher rate of customer satisfaction. Customers are not only able to pick up medications on their own schedule, but pharmacies are also able to increase customer retention through trust and timely delivery.
This allows pharmacies to compete with other providers, providing better in-person consultation services by freeing up staff, as well as contributing to public health initiatives.
2. Improved prescription dispensing numbers
In addition to increased customer satisfaction, pharmacies can better track return rates, in the case of patients not picking up prescriptions or returning incorrect doses.
Statistics have shown that in 2019/20, there were 1.04 billion prescription items dispensed from pharmacies in England. Over 2.4 thousand pharmacies dispensed an average of over ten thousand items per month that same year, and the average number of items dispensed each month per pharmacy was approximately 6.6 thousand this year.
Considering the number of repeat medications that are regularly prescribed due to conditions such as chronic illnesses, prescription delivery services help pharmacies better manage stock issues and quickly correct any errors. It also assists in the reduction of waste around prescriptions that are dispensed and either not used or returned for disposal – providing both patients and pharmacies with greater and better control over their own health, as well as reliably saving time.
3. Staying tech-savvy alongside competitors
Efficient prescription delivery is key for pharmacies to stay competitive in the long term. With companies like Amazon providing offerings such as PillPack, and establishing a potentially dominating presence in the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacies need to stay on top of technology trends that align with market demands. This includes online deliveries and Prescription Collection Solutions.
While home deliveries can be useful, providing a click-and-collect service can mean implementing an even faster delivery method that is still effective and secure for pick-up, and further increases customer trust.
Challenges of Prescription Deliveries
Advantages often come with their own set of challenges, but pharmacy delivery problems aren’t unsolvable. Challenges that occur can make room for improvements in the service, a few of which we have provided below.
1. The in-person trust factor
When it comes to health and well-being, trust is a big factor that many patients require ─ especially in terms of pharmacy delivery services. Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,390 adults in February of 2021, finding that 85% of respondents prefer to receive their prescriptions from a local pharmacist in person.
Of those respondents, 36% said their local pharmacist knows them better than a company offering online orders. Another 15% expressed concerns over medications ordered online getting stolen, damaged, or lost.
To compete with in-person pharmacists and overcome concerns about trustworthy delivery, pharmacies will need to offer an exceptional user experience alongside a transparent and reliable delivery service.
2. Poor delivery practices
Following on from the concerns over misplaced or damaged medications, it’s not uncommon for deliveries to end up at the wrong address. However, poor delivery practices mean that there are increased health risks outside of those who don’t receive their needed prescriptions.
An incident mentioned in the Pharmaceutical Journal describes an unfortunate occasion of a driver delivering medication to a neighbouring house ─ of which the resident happened to have a serious problem with substance abuse.
Another incident describes prescriptions being eaten by pet dogs after being delivered through a letterbox. Prescriptions being left at the doorstep and being stolen is another unfortunate incident of poor delivery practices, and further increases the risks of fatal accidents.
Proper precautions need to be considered and delivery methods, such as track and trace or requiring signatures, can assist in safely delivering sensitive medication.
3. Coordinating logistics
Same-day delivery poses a challenge around logistics and supply chain constraints. Some people may still be required to collect prescriptions in person, or experience delayed or failed deliveries.
Like the challenge of poor delivery practices, upgrading tracking abilities and streamlining processes to enable real-time communication between the drivers, the pharmacy, and the customer can improve coordination and provide a more secure and trustworthy user experience.
How to increase the efficiency of prescription dispensing?
With all this information in mind, and understanding the benefits and common challenges of prescription deliveries, how can pharmacies increase their delivery rates? Particularly, when it comes to the collection and improving customer experience.
1. Automated prescription collection
Although automation improves flexibility for customers, pharmacies need to consider the advantages automation can bring to the business itself, as well. At a time when automation and moving away from traditional operations is key, improving prescription deliveries with an automated service means providing an additional option that stands in between in-store collection and home delivery.
As discussed above, with missed or failed home deliveries being a challenge, implementing a collection service that includes purpose-built prescription delivery lockers means giving customers an easier user experience, increased business opportunities from repeat customers, and higher customer satisfaction.
2. Install prescription delivery lockers
To increase delivery rates, having a dedicated pharmacy locker bank can help improve the efficiency of the collection process. This benefits both the pharmacy during peak visiting hours, as well as the customer who prefer flexible collection or a contactless experience.
Finding the best locker that is fit for purpose can be difficult, however, understanding the needs of your workplace and the challenges of your delivery service is an important first step to improving it.
Vpod’s pharmacy lockers for prescription deliveries provide a secure storage space that uses smart technology, solving the challenges of prescription collection and delivery by automating the process.
With efficient and confidential prescription dispensing that is 24/7 available for your customers, pharmacy lockers pose ROI for businesses that want to enhance their prescription deliveries while cutting operational costs.
In summary, implementing an automated prescription collection solution assists in having better control over delivery rates, as well as increasing the rates to begin with. Among other aspects, Prescription Deliveries are a great way to:
- Increase flexibility for customers, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction
- Improve pharmacy prescription dispensing numbers by streamlining internal procedures
- Keep up with competitors and their use of technology